Sustainability innovation cube - A framework to evaluate sustainability-oriented innovations

Erik G. Hansen, Friedrich Grosse-Dunker, Ralf Reichwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

341 Scopus citations


Corporations increasingly subscribe to the principles of corporate sustainability, which is generally described as the integration of economic, environmental and social dimensions. Concerning innovation management, this emphasises the role of sustainability-oriented innovations (SOI). SOI is considered a tool both to address sustainability issues and to tap into new customer segments and markets. Yet SOI are very risky: both their market success and non-economic sustainability are uncertain. This paper presents a generic model termed the 'Sustainability Innovation Cube' (SIC) for structuring innovations' sustainability effects in order to better inform corporate decision-makers about how to minimize the directional risk of SOI. The model includes the three dimensions: target, life cycle and innovation type. A qualitative expert study reveals the opportunities and challenges related to the developed model. Finally, practical implications are derived, limitations are discussed and a brief outlook is given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-713
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Decision framework
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Product innovation
  • Sustainability innovation
  • Sustainable development


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